Is this our World Cup legacy?

2011-12-11 10:00
Timothy Molobi
Crisis? What crisis?

At least according to South African Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani, it is not a crisis when almost all our national soccer teams fail to make an impact on the continent.

That sums up the state of the country’s football.

How on earth does Safa justify the national teams’ disastrous year and still not see it as a crisis?

It seems the 2010 Fifa World Cup has brought South Africa more bad luck than good on the field of play.

While other countries have been waiting to see what the World Cup spin-offs have done for the country, the national effect has instead turned out to be a damp squib.

This is not the legacy everybody had been hoping for.

It is said the best coach is the spectator and that a team of those that watch from the stands will never be beaten – not on paper. That is how much people love this game of millions – everyone has an opinion about it.

But, taking a deeper look, was this the worst year in South African football? Depending from where you are seated, reactions to this issue differ.

Most national team sides were close to attaining big achievements, but fizzled out in the last moment as was the case with Bafana Bafana, the Under-23s and the Under-20s.

The fact is the heartbreak of Bafana’s failure was caused by being so near and yet so far in terms of qualifying for the second successive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). The failure of coach Shakes Mashaba’s team to book a place in next year’s London Olympic Games at the last hurdle and the Under-20’s elimination in the group stages of the Cosafa Cup has upset the nation.

This has led many people to regard this year as the the worst ever for our soccer.

There have been several years in the past when the national sides won nothing and came nowhere closer to achieving anything.

When we won the 1996 Afcon, was it just a flash in the pan or was it because we followed proper channels? What guarantees do we have that the best ideas will guarantee us success?

The problem is not just on the surface.

» While the Absa Premiership is regarded as among the best 10 leagues in the world, this is only regards its coffers as it is poor on the field of play.

Barcelona and Real Madrid rank as the best sides in the world and serve as feeders for the national team, Spain, who dominate world football.

This is contrary to the PSL’s mediocre football.

» When last did a South African club go past the knock-out stages in Africa? In fact, the last time a local side won a major club competition was in 1995 when Orlando Pirates lifted the CAF Champions League title. Since then, our clubs have been fumbling on the continent, impacting negatively on the performances of our national teams;

» PSL clubs no longer attract quality foreign players as before and so the standard of football has declined; and

» Safa/PSL politics are derailing the progress of our football and take centre stage.

Football is the victim.